Is Multitasking Effective?
Multitasking is thought to cost the world $450 billion annually. What is it costing your business?
Too many entrepreneurs are over committed, over extended, and allow themselves to become too busy. In efforts to keep their head above water they employ a multitasking strategy. Some are even known to flaunt their ability to multitask, as if it’s a powerful advantage. Others who multitask often think of themselves as Mavericks of the business world. They assume that this strategy will help them be more efficient and effective in their work. However they unfortunately couldn’t be more wrong.
Contrary to what you might think, you are actually less efficient when you multitask. Studies have shown that your brain can multitask on “automatic activities” such as walking and talking, but cannot focus on 2 or more “conscious experiences” at the same time, such as talking and listening. When 2 or more “conscious experiences” take place at the same time, the brain does not allow you to share attention. It rather is forced to switch back and forth between each experience. When this happens, the amount of time it takes to complete each task increases by almost 2x. For example, If you’re on a phone call and while attempting to type an email at the same time, your brain will not allow you to effectively do both simultaneously. In moments like this, your brain becomes a switch board and is constantly and quickly switching back and forth between the 2 tasks. Because of this rapid switching, your amount of mistakes increases. Thus the quality of your work becomes lower, and the errors rise by a whopping 50%. As we can see, any time you add a second task, it always costs you something on the first task. So not only is multitasking less efficient, but it’s also less effective.
There are 2 basic types of multitasks. Are you one of them?
- A Professional Multitasker (One who strategically attempts to do multiple tasks at the same time in effort to get more done.)
- A Accidental Multitasker (One who multitasks without being aware. This person doesn’t really have a daily routine. They show up to the office and start answering emails as they come in, phone calls as they come in, letting others walk into their office and start a discussion, and allow clients dictate meeting times and dates.)
What does the research say?
A recent study has shown that multitasking causes brain energy depletion. People who multitask regularly have less grey matter. What is grey matter? Grey matter is the part of the brain that processes information…so we’ll want to hold onto as much grey matter as possible. Research has also shown that people who multi-task are not only less efficient, but they also have difficulty in paying attention, and recalling information. Sounds like a bad recipe for success!
“When you ‘multitask’ it’s inevitable that each individual task be slower and of lower quality.” – James Johnston, research psychologist at NASA
So how is multitasking affecting you?
- it increases stress
- it fatigues the brain and depletes it of energy
- it impairs our ability to do any one task well
- it deprives us from deeper meaningful experiences
- it increases risk of errors
Don’t believe me? Test it…
If you want to test your multitasking skills, try watching a youtube video you’ve never seen before (of someone talking), while having a conversation with someone else on the phone for 5 minutes. Pay close attention to both conversations. After the 5 minutes is finished, recite as many things as you can from the youtube video. Then recite as many things as you can from the phone conversation. What you’ll quickly find is that you were not able to truly ingest both conversations at the same time, and that your mind only captured bits and pieces of each. You’ll also find that you begin to confuse elements that was said in the video with elements was said on the phone. This is exactly how your mind reacts when you try to multitask at work.
Take it from a Billionaire
Houstonian Bob McNair, Billionaire, brought the NFL Texans to Houston for $750M, and built Reliant stadium for $325M. He has more projects on his desk than anyone in the city, more people attempting to get his attention, and yet what is his secret to consistent forward movement? He said…”When I sit down to do business I merely concentrate on one project at a time.” If you want to live a life like a billionaire, then how do you do it? By modeling what they do. That’s exactly what the Immersion Lifestyle does. The Immersion Lifestyle was created to model the same strategies and routines of the most success people of today.
Those who multitask are actually less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time. The time lost switching among tasks increases the complexity and stress to perform the task. – Journal of Experimental Psychology
The Solution: Focus!
Without enforcing a structured daily routine, 63% of tasks will be interrupted in some way. So stop allowing the world to dictate your day and order of your tasks. You must take back control of your day. You must focus on one task at a time until completed. Do you think the world’s most powerful and successful people allow others to dictate their day and schedules. Absolutely not. So neither should you.
Action steps to eliminate multitasking
Here’s a few helpful key points that we teach in the Immersion Lifestyle Strategy.
- Make fewer commitments.
- Learn to say no more often than you say yes.
- Turn of the cell phone, close the email, lock the office door.
- Schedule your entire day ahead of time and set aside a specific time for each task.
- Do only one task at a time.
- Do not allow anything or anyone to interrupt your tasks!
Focus is all about making a conscious decision to stop multitasking and eliminate distractions. Make a decision right now to stop reacting and start being proactive. If you want to do something impactful in life, then model the lifestyle of the billionaires and put all your focus on one task at a time. The result will astonish you. The most successful people operate with laser like focus, and this is exactly what the Immersion Lifestyle is all about. Putting focus on the things that matter most.
Multitasking raises stress levels.
When you multitask, you switch virtual worlds.Does anyone remember those old “this is your brain on drugs” commercials? Well this is what your brain on multitasking looks like…
Switching makes you dumber than being stoned. IQ drops by 10 points, versus 5 if smoking marijuana. – CNN World
“Intense multitasking can produce a stress response, an adrenaline rush that when prolonged can damage cells that form new memory.” – Dr. David Meyer, Psychology University of Michigan
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